Saturday, August 6, 2011

Bruschetta Salad, Day 70, 8/6/11

I was so excited to receive arugula in my Door to Door Organics order this week.  My brother loves arugula and talks about it often.  But I had never had it (or so I thought,) and this was going to be my opportunity to try it.  I sent my brother a text when I received my order and asked him what I should do with it.  He responded that he likes it with pasta...  So after a few texts back and forth I had decided what I was going to make.  Whole wheat pasta with fresh corn, snap peas and arugula in a spicy garlic cream sauce.

As I cleaned the arugula, I noticed its unusual shape and decided it was possibly the salad green that Granite City uses in their Grilled Chicken and Bruschetta Salad, that I am currently obsessed with.  This salad comes with the most delicious bread that I order extra of, and of course, I request no chicken.  I've eaten it twice in the last couple of months, but I think about it all the time.  Seriously.  It's just delicious! 

I thought quickly about what other ingredients I had in the house and right then and there, my plan completely changed.  Bruschetta Salad it is.

Start by thinly slicing 1/4 of a medium onion.  I'm pretty sure Granite City actually uses shallots, but I didn't have any of those in the house and as it turned out, the onion worked just fine.

Put the onions in a small container and add a combination of balsamic and red wine vinegars for the onions to marinate in.  You'll want to let the onions hang out in the fridge for a few hours so they can take on all the tart, yummy flavor of the vinegars.

I think brushetta is typically made with balsamic vinegar, but the second I opened the bottle, I knew that smell wasn't quite right.  So, I opened the red wine vinegar that was sitting behind it, since it's a purplish color too, and the dressing on the salad is a deep purple color.  The red wine vinegar smelled like the salad I remember.  I combined the two, balsamic and red wine vinegar using a ratio of approximately 75% balsamic vinegar and 25% red wine vinegar.

Tear the arugula into bite-sized pieces in a large bowl and add the marinated onion pieces while reserving the vinegar mixture. 

Add 3 sliced roma tomatoes and some blue cheese crumbles to the bowl.  I would've thought that feta would go better with bruschetta, but Granite City uses blue cheese and I love blue cheese so that's what I went with.

Pour the vinegar mixture into a small glass bowl and add extra virgin olive oil, 1 grated medium garlic clove and some black pepper.  Whisk this together to make the dressing for the salad.  I think the next time I make this, I'm going to try adding a smidge of honey for a little bit of sweetness.

Pour a small amount of the dressing over the veggies and cheese, then toss.

Granite City uses a baguette sliced on a steep diagonal for their delicious bread.  Unfortunately, I didn't have a baguette.  But I don't let a missing ingredient or two stop me from making something when inspiration strikes.  I just find a way to make it work.

What I did for this venture, was toast 2 slices of regular whole grain bread and then rub each with a clove of garlic that I sliced one end off of.  I've seen this garlic rubbing technique used on several cooking shows but this was the first time I had ever tried it.  I was surprised how much garlic flavor was taken on by the bread.  It really works.

After the garlic, I spread each slice of bread with non hydrogenated margarine and sprinkled on just a tiny bit of grated parmesan cheese.  Finally, I cut the bread slices into thirds.

I love to eat this delicious salad by piling the prefect bite onto the bread and eating it all together.  It's really the best way to eat it.

The dressing gives the salad a wonderfully tangy flavor, that makes your taste buds feel alive.  The bread cuts the tartness of the dressing perfectly and the arugula adds a mildly peppery flavor.  Arugula doesn't have the overwhelming earthy flavor that you get from some dark greens.  It works perfectly in this salad, where it isn't just a vessel for dressing as is sometimes the case with lettuce.  The arugula adds its own subtle flavor that I would've had a very difficult time putting my finger on if I wouldn't have just stumbled upon it like I did.  I now understand why Nathan raves about it as he does- it's delicious.

My version of Granite City's Grilled Chicken and Bruschetta Salad (sans chicken) is darn close to the original.  And, I enjoyed it so much that as I'm typing this, I've already made it twice, and I just received the arugula 4 days ago.  It's a winner!

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